A Kerala youth who died in Thrissur on Saturday had tested positive for monkeypox while abroad, Health Minister Veena George said on Sunday.
The 22-year-old, a resident of Punniyur in Thrissur, died in a private hospital in Thrissur, days after returning from the United Arab Emirates. The government said an investigation would be carried out to determine the cause of death despite the presence of the monkeypox virus confirmed by tests carried out in the United Arab Emirates.
“The youth had no symptoms of monkeypox. He had been admitted to a hospital with symptoms of encephalitis and fatigue. His relatives handed over the test result only on Saturday. A high-level probe would be held into the death as monkeypox has a very low fatality rate,’’ said the minister.
The state health department sent its samples to the Alappuzha Unit of the National Institute of Virology in Kerala.
Health department sources said the youngster, stationed in Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, reached Kozhikode airport in Kerala on July 22. “I was active after returning home. He was playing football on the local pitch. On July 26, he developed a fever and sought treatment at a local hospital, after which he was transferred to another hospital, where he was put on life support. He said he registered in the United Arab Emirates before flying to Kerala. After his death, we learned that he was asked to rest after returning home. Until Saturday, the family was not interested in taking the matter up with the local village health department or the panchayat,” sources said.
After the youth died Saturday afternoon, his burial was held as per the protocol for the disease. All his primary contacts have been put under observation.
There have been four confirmed cases of monkeypox in India so far, three of them in Kerala. The patient, who reported the first case, was discharged from the hospital on Saturday.
The monkeypox outbreak has seen more than 22,000 cases in nearly 80 countries since May. There have been 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Congo.